The birth of URBAMORPHOSIS

Two African photographers, one Ethiopian and the other Congolese, embarked on a project to document the immense changes taking place in the new flower, a birth city for one and a city that the other has come to love as his own – Addis.

For those of you who’ve been following this blog, you know I’m the Ethiopian. The one who was birthed in what is referred to as the capital of Africa. Addis Ababa is not only the city of my birth, it’s the city I grew up in, left and came back to 14 years later. It’s a city I’m relearning and getting acquainted with. It’s the city that has safeguarded the remains of my ancestors, but sometimes also thrown them up whole to make way for ‘development’. It’s a city that accommodates both old and new – although much of the old seems to be giving way to the new.

I’ve wanted to put on a photo exhibition for a long time – it’s been one of those items on my bucket list I wasn’t ever sure I would cross off. Then John comes along and pushes this idea of capturing the skeletons of Addis. Why not? If I had to start somewhere, it should be by paying tribute to the city that birthed and raised me. So there you have it – the birth of URBAMORPHOSIS!

As we took these images, we journeyed through Addis, conscious and witness to its past, its present and its looming future. The Addis we knew, or even know today is not the same Addis that will be tomorrow. The only constant being change.

This project forced me to see the city differently. Everywhere I looked, I could see the cityscape dominated by new high rises, even the most iconic of Addis’ treasures was framed by construction – and destruction.

This project aims to capture some of the rapid transformation taking place in this city. For both of us, it is a tribute to the people who are constantly negotiating their place in this new flower and to the city which is forever trying to outpace its name.

URBAMORPHOSIS kicks off a week from today on Thursday, May 11th, 2017 at Dinq Art Gallery in Addis Ababa. We hope you’ll come out and experience for yourself.

Flyer - URBAMORPHOSIS

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My FEMNET journey – Six Years Ago Today

BBOG - NebsSix years ago today, April 18, 2011, was my first day of work at the FEMNET Secretariat. New city, new position, new challenge. Little did I know that my four plus years would mean I would criss-cross the earth, deepen (and question) my pan-African and feminist politics, be an active participant in game-changing global, continental and regional policy making processes, lead campaigns and take to the streets (on numerous occasions), be in the same spaces with presidents, movers and shakers, incredible and passionate activists and idealists who put everything on the line to make sure the earth would be better than the way they found it.

We made magic happen, with sisters (and brothers) from across Africa and across the globe, and for those experiences and more, for working with colleagues who became family, for being allowed to build wings and fly, to innovate and renovate, to imagine and deliver, to be challenged and to grow exponentially, both professionally and personally, I am forever grateful.

My FEMNET journey will always be a part of my story, and all of you characters who populate it. Thank you for fighting the good fight, for your love, your warmth, your passion, your courage, your persistence and so much more. I miss you, on a day like today and on many days.

I remember

I remember sweet memories

Kindergarten.
Eating meals with me,
Waiting for me to finish
Me, in no hurry.
You, ever so patient
You asked a five year old permission
To leave early for your next appointment

Third grade
You waited for me at the bottom of the hill
Classic pose
My excitement was uncontained
As I ran to you

Fifth grade
Puzzles and prizes
Random homework checks

Sixth grade
Camping out in the living room
Screenings of the world cup
Passionate cheers in the middle of the night

Eighth grade
Night school
You, in your puffy jacket
Sporting a cane
I loved that you came for me
Walking
And back home
Arms linked,
We went walking

Fruits, I remember fruits
Enough to feed the entire neighborhood
Consumed voraciously
Never scolding never chiding
Finding 1001 things to do with fruit
But most of all
Just simply feasting
I blame my fruitaholic ness on you

New clothes
Cookies and candies
Filling up closets
In anticipation of Eid

Kelamfarekh & kerkasa
Gobez we nus
Anbessa ye anbessa lej

Two fingers in the air
You always knew
Ultimately it was you and the Almighty

Eighth grade
Hospitals
Restless nights
Empty houses
Screaming
Tears
Graduation sans toi

I remember….
Sweet memories
Dreams
Thoughts
Unspoken words
Unanswered questions

Fast forward 15 years
Today, I felt a breeze
Thought it might be you
Telling me, after all this time
You were still here
Witnessing precious moments
Graduations, wedding, birth of two grandkids
Praying for more blessings our way
We send them back

The umbilical cord is not broken.

Celebrating X

49 years ago today, we lost one of our best, Malcolm X.

The Man Amidst the Men

The Man Amidst the Men

One of my favorite quotes of his which exemplifies who he was, and what he stood for at the end of it all:

“I have had enough of someone else’s propaganda. I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I am a human being first and foremost, and as such, I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole”.

Rest in power and paradise X. Your legacy lives on.

Celebrating Daddy

By Semiha Abdulmelik

Losing my father was an exercise in a kind of growing up, an exercise in trying to comprehend as well as giving up on understanding, an attempt at resurrecting and reconstructing memories, buffing some and trying to darken others. It has been over time, trying to understand absence over time, and to borrow the words of another, ‘For a long time I stressed the absence, the hole. Now I find it is the shape which has become more important.’

Loss is an exercise in remembering and the funny amnesias. I can remember that it was a Sunday, and the minute details of the day, including the quick shower before heading out to what I thought was going to be a hospital visit, and I remember running to the living room to watch between the hexagonal grill the ambulance enter the driveway. But I can never remember whether it was the 20th or the 21st of February. Every year, mid-February, I turn back my calendar to February 2000, to check which was a Sunday. This major pilgrimage was always difficult, always different. The date, regardless that it was confusedly straddled between the 20th and 21st became a shrine in my mind that I visited and revisited.

Perhaps this year, I will try merely to celebrate a father’s, my daddy’s, love. His love was comforting-a comfort borne from being known, flaws and all, and loved deeply nonetheless. It was a love that saw all my colours and hues-bold, muted, hideous, beautiful. It was not loud or demanding, just certain, constant, and always present. I did not ever turn behind or around to look for it, certain as I was that it was always with me. It was that trusted gabi, neither too heavy and suffocating, or too light and unreliable. It was the feeling of sitting indoors, spoonfuls of cardamom vanilla honey laced oatmeal on a cold keremt day, whose sensation lingers into the summer days. His love I think come before and beyond my story-indeed when pressed, he would tell me, ‘I loved you the moment I knew you were conceived’.

If matter is neither created nor destroyed, perhaps so it is with my father’s love.

Ode to Mother of Sophia

Emama
You raise a boy
But when he’s grown
He becomes gashe
The familiar replaced with the formal
Was it out of respect or duty?
Senior calling a junior
What in normal circumstances
A junior would call a senior
But class before age
Yes, here status is everything

So you lose your name
Dubbed mother of your daughter
Who swam to warmer waters
Only to return so cold

As we remember
And perhaps regret
Every instance
We brushed off your warmth
We are reminded,
That you too,
Like Sophia
Are now so cold.

Paying Tribute to the Prince

michael-jackson-as-a-child

THIS DAY IN HISTORY |  four years ago today (June 25, 2009), the legend that is Michael Jackson passed away. MJ was, I want to say, as popular as Coca-Cola – his posters and images could be found in even the remotest of places.

Four years ago today I actually remember driving out of UCLA on a Friday afternoon – seeing all this commotion and media outside of the UCLA hospital – and I had no idea what was going on. A friend I saw on the sidewalk yelled that Michael had been taken to the hospital and was being reported dead…

I immediately tuned to the LA radio stations – and some (I particularly remember KJLH) saying that they didn’t want to speculate and were respecting the Jackson family while others (KISS) were already reporting him gone….but all were paying tribute by playing his endless jams.

Regardless of who you think MJ was or what he did, no-one can deny the effect he had on people across the globe, in all four corners – with his unique music style and dance moves.

He is unparalleled – and his legacy lives on in more ways than one.

Paying tribute to the legend, the #PrinceofPop.

One of my favorite tunes: YOU ROCK MY WORLD

X + 48

X + 48

“I have had enough of someone else’s propaganda
I’m for truth
No matter who speaks it
I’m for justice
No matter who it is for or against
I’m a human being and as such-
I’m for whatever and whoever will benefit humanity as a whole”

It’s been 48 years since Malcolm X was assassinated,
but he lives on in more ways than one.

Image

Daddy

How do I honor a man amidst the men?
How do I do justice to the extraordinarily beautiful person you were?
How do I pay tribute to he who loved us as soon as we came into existence – for no other reason than that we were?

13 years have passed but you remain forever alive in every moment
In our very beings
In memories replayed
In thoughts recalled
In prayers recited
In teachings reenacted
In values respected
In principles upheld

You were more than any girl could ask for, and the best she got.

‘I miss you, like the desert misses the rain.’
But I rest assured that InshALLAH you are resting in paradise.

Always,
The Lion’s Daughter

July 31st

July 31st marks the day of my birth. It also marks African Women’s Day. This is the perfect opportunity for me to pay tribute to an amazing African woman. After all, birthdays shouldn’t be a celebration of ourselves (for what did we do aside from being born), but rather a celebration of the phenomenal women who carry us around for nine whole months, endure countless hours of hard labour, bring us into this world, pamper, nurture, and shower us with unconditional love, deal with our nonsenses and make immeasurable sacrifices. Today and always, dearest momma, I salute you. You are truly a phenomenal woman. I am where I am because of you, I am nothing without you. I pray that the ALMIGHTY showers you with long life, good health, countless blessings and infinite happiness. I wish you all your heart desires and much more, because you deserve nothing less.

Dearest momma, I love you more than you know, and I love you with a love I will never outgrow.

Today, and always, I salute you momma.
You are a phenomenal African woman.

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